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Papi Sal’s Philly-Meets-Puerto Rican Fusion Is the Highlight of One of Portland’s Newest, Biggest Cart Pods

It’s pulled lechon, slow-cooked in sweetish barbecue sauce, with toppings that nod to both Philadelphia’s Italian-style roast pork and PR cuisine.

Papi Sal’s is the must-try jawn at one of Portland’s biggest, newest jawns. Its signature item? The Jawn.

Confused? In Philadelphia, “jawn” is an all-purpose slang term, used indiscriminately for any place or thing. In the case of the preceding sentence, those things would be, respectively, a food cart, a cart pod and a sandwich.

Owner John Hatch, who opened Papi Sal’s at the huge new Collective Oregon Eateries food cart pod on Southeast 82nd Avenue off Powell Boulevard in late February, is a Philly native of Puerto Rican heritage, and the Jawn—as in the sandwich—takes cues from both food cultures. It’s pulled lechon, slow-cooked in sweetish barbecue sauce, with toppings that nod to both Philadelphia’s Italian-style roast pork (sharp provolone, “long hot” peppers) and PR cuisine (sofrito mayo, sazón on the long hots, chicharrones).

The real star, though, may be the sesame sandwich rolls, which Hatch bakes daily in the truck and are influenced by two South Philly-New Jersey institutions, Sarcone’s and Liscio’s, as well as Hatch’s local growing up, Conshohocken Italian Bakery.

There’s much more to eat at Papi Sal’s, including a sazón hot fried chicken sandwich and also much more to the CORE: Hatch’s neighbors include The Drip’N Crab, Jas Kitchen and Breakside Brewery’s “Winnebeergo.”

The pod is also planning an onsite bar, a farmers market and a thrift market. An official grand opening jawn is set for June.

3612 SE 82nd Ave., papisalfoodcart.com. 4-8 pm Wednesday, 1-7 pm Thursday, noon-7 pm Friday, noon-8 pm Saturday, 11 am-7 pm Sunday.

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